Young attorney Ale Villacaño takes a pro bono prison rights base and gets quickly drawn into a criminal web and corporate negligence.

  • Chris Robert Lawing
    Greg's Going to Rehab
  • Chris Robert Lawing
  • Chris Lawing
  • Natasha Coppola-Shalom
    Last Call, Extra Innings
  • Glenn Stanton
    Key Cast
    The Walking Dead, The Son, Chicago Fire
  • Rusty Schwimmer
    Key Cast
    The Perfect Storm, North Country, Righteous Gemstones
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 30 minutes 39 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 1, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    122,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • St. Louis Filmmaker's Showcase
    St. Louis
    United States
    July 23, 2023
    Award: Best Cinematography
  • North Hollywood Cinefest
    Los Angeles, CA
    September 30, 2023
    Los Angeles Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Tallgrass Film Festival
    Wichita, KS
    United States
    October 6, 2023
    Kansas Premiere
Director Biography - Chris Robert Lawing

I’ve been a filmmaker for over 25 years. Even before I picked up a camera, I had a pen. And that has been the foundation for my career and the basis for making good films. I studied creative writing in college and shot my first feature in 16mm B&W during my senior year at the University of Kansas. My wife was my creative partner then and still is my primary collaborator.
My professional career has spanned me working as an assistant editor on Monsters, Inc., an editor and assistant editor on various other feature films to producing and directing commercials and corporate films.

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Director Statement

Penitentia is an intensely personal film for me. In June of 2021, I was driving through Kansas to attend my father’s funeral. I contemplated the best way to memorialize who he was and what he believed. He had been a civil rights activist and lawyer in Wichita, KS for over fifty years. On the drive, I decided I would make a film to honor his memory and legacy. With a story and mission in mind, I wrote the script the following months, raised $100,000, and then shot the movie in 15 days (eight months after his funeral). I’ve sought to capture his struggles for social justice and fights against the abuse of power with a narrative about a prison abuse case and a young lawyer forced to decide what kind of law he’s called to practice.